Melina Vastola / USA TODAY Sports

Seminoles too much for Gators

The easy thing to do would be to blame all the injuries for Florida’s 31-13 loss to Florida State (9-3) at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee Saturday night. Obviously, the M*A*S*H unit that we call the Gators (8-3) could have used all those players who either didn’t suit up or left the game hurting against the 14th-ranked Seminoles (9-3), but injuries tell only part of the story.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE You could point fingers at the offensive line that leaked like a sieve when the Gators were trying to throw the football and couldn’t open up holes consistently for Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine to run through. The Gators were completely overmatched by FSU’s quicker, stronger D-line that sacked Austin Appleby 6 times and held the Gators to 58 rushing yards on 29 carries.

You could also point a finger at Appleby (19-35 passing for 149 yards, 4.3 yards per attempt) who needed to get rid of the ball quicker and see open receivers, but the receivers didn’t exactly help him. They ran lazy routes and showed little willingness to make tough catches. A corner route that Appleby threw incomplete to Antonio Callaway in the third quarter comes to mind. Although Appleby needed to deliver the ball sooner, Callaway was still open and should have made the catch for a TD.

And, when you’re in the 12th game of the season and running backs consistently fail to understand where the blitz is coming from, you’ve got problems and problems aren’t what you want when you have to face an Alabama team that didn’t give up a single touchdown in the month of November next week in Atlanta.

It all added up to Florida State’s fourth straight win over the Gators and sixth in seven years.

“It hurts,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said post game. “The guys played hard. We didn’t create anything explosively on offense. We didn’t block them. Tough pill to swallow.”

No fingers should be pointed at Florida’s defense, however. Injuries on the D-line left the Gators playing with only five healthy linemen the last quarter and a half. When Jaetwan Taylor and Duke Dawson left the game with injuries, the secondary was so depleted the Gators had to play almost an entire quarter in a base 4-3 defense with linebackers trying to cover slot receivers.

Even with no depth, Florida held FSU to 387 total yards. FSU managed only one big pass play – a 46-yard Deondre Francois to Travis Rudolph TD – but Dalvin Cook (153 yards) and Francois (63) combined for 216 of the Seminoles’ 249 rushing yards.

The Gators didn’t score an offensive touchdown. They went for a fourth and goal from the FSU 2 and didn’t convert on the first possession of the game instead of putting points on the board. Special teams accounted for all 13 Florida points. Eddy Pineiro kicked field goals of 38 and 41 yards and Marcell Harris ran a fumbled punt return in for a fourth quarter touchdown.

Florida’s 207 yards marked the fourth time in the last five games UF was held to fewer than 300 yards. Since beating Missouri, 40-14, back on October 15, the Gators have scored only 7 offensive touchdowns.

THE GOOD

1. On Florida’s second play from scrimmage, Jordan Scarlett broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage, broke to the left and got into the secondary. By the time he was knocked down Scarlett had picked up 13 yards.

2. Florida influenced DeMarcus Walker with motion and brought Antonio Callaway on an end around. The extra step taken by Walker gave Callaway the edge as he went around the right side for a 24-yard gain to the FSU 33.

3. Austin Appleby made the right read and flipped a short pass to Lamical Perine who blew by three potential FSU tacklers down the left sideline for a 25-yard gain to give the Gators a first and goal at the FSU 7.

4. With FSU leading 7-0, the Seminoles had second and goal at the UF 5 but Jalen Tabor broke up a pass in the end zone (should have intercepted it) and on the next play stripped the ball from a receiver at the 2 on a little swing route that had touchdown written all over it, forcing FSU to settle for a 22-yard Ricky Aguayo field goal with 14:47 left in the first half.

5. Just when the Gators seemed to be teetering on the verge of falling apart in the second quarter, they put together a 16-play drive that ended with a 38-yard Eddy Pineiro field goal with 7:19 remaining in the half to cut the Seminoles’ lead to 10-3. On the drive, the Gators converted two fourth downs, one on a quarterback sneak by Appleby and the other a tough, 3-yard run by Jordan Scarlett. On the drive, which began at the UF 25 following an FSU field goal, Scarlett carried 6 times for 27 yards. Florida held the ball for 7:28 seconds to give the defense a well-deserved rest.

6. On consecutive plays in the secondary with less than 5 minutes to go in the half, Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor came up with pass breakups to force an FSU punt. Wilson got his hands on a pass intended for Travis Rudolph on a slant route and Tabor knocked down a ball on the sideline intended for 6-5 Auden Tate.

7. FSU had a first down at the UF 27 when Caleb Brantley ripped through a triple team to pressure Deondre Francois into a late throw over the middle that resulted in an incompletion. On third down, Francois tried to hit Rudolph on a crossing pattern but Kylan Johnson got hands on the ball for an incompletion that forced a 44-yard field goal attempt.

8. On the field goal attempt, Joey Ivie knifed through the center-guard gap on the right side and got a hand up to block the field goal attempt by Ricky Aguayo.

9. Chauncey Gardner, playing free safety while everyone else was locked up in man coverage, came up with the first interception of his career on FSU’s second possession of the third quarter. Deondre Francois was trying to hit a receiver over the middle but overthrew and Gardner made the pick then returned it 15 yards to the FSU 27. UF couldn’t move the ball but came away with points when Eddy Pineiro nailed his second field goal of the game from 41 yards out with 10:26 left in the quarter to cut FSU’s lead to 10-6.

10. Florida’s offense couldn’t move the ball, so special teams came up with a touchdown. Trailing 24-6 in the fourth quarter, Johnny Townsend’s 43-yard punt was taken by Nyqwan Murray, who managed about three steps when Chris Thompson stripped him of the football. Marcell Harris scooped up the ball at the FSU 12 and returned it for a TD with 10:45 to go in the game. Pineiro’s extra point cut the FSU lead to 24-13.

11. With FSU trying to milk the clock late in the fourth quarter, Marcell Harris came up with the hit of the game to knock FSU QB Deondre Francois into next week, separating him from the football. Jalen Tabor recovered for the Gators at the UF

THE BAD

1. The Gators had a first and goal at the FSU 7 on their first possession of the game but they came up empty. After Perine was stuffed on first down, Appleby hurried a second down pass for an incompletion, then threw underneath to Brandon Powell on third down. Powell was stuffed at the 2. Florida went for it on fourth down and came up empty.

2. On FSU’s first possession in the first quarter, Duke Dawson was flagged for a 15-yard facemask penalty when he wasn’t even involved in the play. The extra 15 yards was tacked on after a 3-yard run by Jacque Patrick to give FSU a first down at the Florida 33.

3. The Gators faced a third and 8 late in the second quarter when Appleby was sacked by FSU’s Brian Burns for an 8-yard loss back to the UF 9. Appleby escaped the first wave of pass rush and had time to unload the ball instead of taking the sack.

4. A roughing the passer penalty against CeCe Jefferson gave FSU a first down to the UF 44 late in the second quarter.

5. On FSU’s second play of the third quarter, DE Jordan Sherit went down with a knee injury. He was helped off the field but that left the Gators with only five healthy D-linemen to play the rest of the game.

6. One play after Duke Dawson had to leave the game with a leg injury, the Gators had to defend FSU on third and 9 from the UF 46 with base personnel and no nickel because of all the injuries in the secondary. Against Florida’s depleted secondary, Francois found Travis Rudolph on a crossing pattern that turned into a TD with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter as FSU took a 17-6 lead.

7. The combination of no offense and a tiring defense due to injuries and lack of depth took a toll as FSU drove 9 plays for 77 yards and a TD, scoring on a 27-yard run by fullback Freddie Stevenson with 12:51 to go in the game as the Seminoles extended their lead to 24-6.

THE UGLY

1. On fourth and goal from the FSU 2, McElwain elected to go for the TD rather than points on the board. FSU brought the blitz from the right side but nobody picked it up, forcing Appleby to unload early for an incompletion with DeAndre Goolsby open in the end zone.

2. After the Gators stopped FSU on the Seminoles first possession, Appleby was sacked on third down by Josh Sweat back at the UF 27. Appleby fumbled with DeMarcus Walker picking up the ball and returning it to the UF 24. From there it was all Dalvin Cook, first for 7 yards, then for 17 and the TD with 4:46 left in the first quarter to give the Seminoles a 7-0 lead.

3. In the first half, Jordan Scarlett didn’t see FSU’s blitzer coming from the outside on three separate occasions. Each time, Scarlett moved to the inside where there was no one to block while a blitzer ran in untouched to force Appleby to hurry his throws, which landed incomplete.

4. Instead of FSU’s defensive line wearing down, the Seminoles got stronger as the game went along, dominating the line of scrimmage in the second half when the Gators were held to 38 yards and only 3 first downs until the final possession when the Seminoles were playing prevent.

5. The Gators were 0-12 on third down conversions and outgained, 387-167. Florida State sacked Appleby 6 times for 44 yards in losses.

6. Appleby fumbled the ball twice when sacked with both turnovers leading to FSU touchdowns.  


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